President Bush says U.S. troops fighting overseas are carrying on the ideals of the nation's founders to fight tyranny and live in freedom. Opposition Democrats say U.S. troops in Iraq should come home, because President Bush has no clear plan for success there.
The president used his weekly radio address to mark America's Independence Day celebrations on the Fourth of July. For more than two centuries, he says, Americans have served and sacrificed for the principles of the nation's founding fathers, from the American Revolution to the mountains of Afghanistan.
"At this hour, the men and women of our Armed Forces are facing danger in distant places, carrying out their missions with all the skill and honor we expect of them. And their families are enduring long separations from their loved ones with great courage and dignity," he said. "Our troops and our military families deserve all our support and gratitude."
President Bush will spend the Fourth of July holiday with troops and their families at Fort Bragg in the state of North Carolina, where he says he will thank them for their service in what he calls freedom's cause.
In the Democratic radio address, Senate candidate Jim Webb said it is time to bring the war in Iraq to what he calls an early and honorable end.
Webb is one of the Vietnam War's most decorated Marines, and served as President Ronald Reagan's secretary of the Navy in the late 1980s. He quit the Republican Party in 2003 over President Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
"I've seen things work well, and I've seen things work badly. And through it all, I have believed strongly that, when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops," he said. "Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."
Webb has focused much of his campaign on opposition to the war in Iraq. He says it is time to end what he calls an open-ended commitment there, so U.S. forces can have the mobility to confront other strategic challenges, including China.
Webb is challenging Virginia Senator George Allen, who is considering running for president in 2008. Both political parties are focusing on the Virginia Senate race as one of this year's most important contests. It is also shaping up to be one of the most contentious, as the two candidates engage in personal attacks over patriotism and military service.